Sunday, February 5, 2017

ഒറ്റാൽ (Ottal- The Trap) (2016)

Director: Jayaraj
Writers: Joshy Mangalath, Anton Chekov (Short story: Vanka)
DOP: M J Radhakrishnan
Cast: Ashanth K Sha, Kumarakom Vasudevan, Shine Tom Chacko
Language: Malayalam

Kuttappayi is an orphan whose parents committed suicide due to debt troubles. He is now with his grandfather who is a duck farmer who stays in Kuttanad on a seasonal basis. Kuttappayi gets used to the environment but the grandfather has to make a decision due to his own poor health.

The film had won a national award in the environment category and so I had the impression that it was about the environment. Turns out that they gave the award just for its sumptuous visuals of Kuttanad. It is a place which, us Malayalees from elsewhere also, treats as a very touristy place but the preference is to get a motorised houseboat and get to the middle of backwaters away from all the people. I recently had seen one of Karl Watson's travel video from Kerala where he hires a small kadathu vanchi (small canoe) and takes a tour along Kuttanadan people's habitats. It is something which is quite alien to us Malayalees also. The film captures the traditional among the Kuttanadans in a magnificent way.

The story of the film is very predictable and fate of Kuttappayi is revealed in the first scene itself. That is not a problem because it is all about the settings and ultra rawness with which it is portrayed by unknown faces. It is an adaptation of Anton Chekov's short story 'Vanka'. Jayaraj is an enigmatic director who can churn out absolute shit as well as very arty stuff. This might be his most uncompromising effort but will still appeal to all and it is not a surprise that it won the highest award at IFFK. It is a great watch and I was certainly left teary-eyed. The name of the film translates as 'Trap' and is a reference to majority of people in this world whose life is a trap and their fates are very much sealed based on who their parents are.

Rating: 4.5/5